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A virtual world is a computer-based online community environment that is designed and shared by individuals so that they can interact in a custom-built, simulated world. Users interact with each other in this simulated world using text-based, two-dimensional or three-dimensional graphical models called avatars. Avatars are graphically rendered using computer graphics imaging (CGI) or any other rendering technology. Individuals control their avatars using input devices like the keyboard, mouse and other specially designed command and simulation gadgets. Today's virtual worlds are purpose-built for entertainment, social, educational, training and various other purposes.
All virtual worlds possess the qualities of persistence and interactivity. This enables the users to explore the inherent benefits of socialization and allows them to study human nature and users' abilities.
A virtual world may also be called a digital world.
Initially, virtual worlds were limited to text and document sharing such as in chat rooms and through conferencing systems. With the advancement in two-dimensional and three-dimensional graphics rendering technologies, graphical models called avatars became the hallmark of virtual worlds. Today, virtual worlds depict a world very similar to reality, with real-world rules and real-time actions and communications. Avatars are real-world or fictionally adapted personalized characters that depict humans, pets or other imaginary characters that inhabit virtual worlds. Today's avatars are three-dimensional, interactive icons that exist in realistic virtual worlds.
There are two types of virtual worlds: